Rotten Tomatoes is both a godsend AND a curse. On one hand, they can save you from watching a legitimately atrocious movie such as The Unborn or Suckerpunch, but then they praise other movies too highly (Cabin in the Woods) and give actually somewhat decent movies too low of a score. It’s all because it’s user based and the user rating is what the people visiting the site pay attention to. There are 3 films in particular that I’d like to discuss, 2 of which have a pretty low score and the other has a high score but is panned by the people who saw it and critics alike. Those films are Jumanji, Avatar and The Mummy (not in the correct order). Avatar has an 83%, Jumanji has a 50% and The Mummy has a 55%.
Both The Mummy and Jumanji are actually rated higher than I thought they’d be, as they’re right on the cusp of being rotten AND fresh, but they are-using the RT system-considered rotten. However, both these films are incredibly enjoyable, entertaining and easy to watch, and they both came out in the mid to late 90s, when we were trying to push our technology with graphics and cgi and special affects forward, so that movies like Avatar could be made. That’s why-despite the rotten rating and the fact that they’re actually pretty enjoyable-these films are VERY important. Yes, Jumanji and The Mummy are both incredibly silly and often times off the wall cheesy but it WAS the 90s. Yet, I will show Jumanji to my children and I STILL love The Mummy. Both are so fun to watch, and both have special effects (well, Jumanjis CGI stuff anyway) that hold up EXTREMELY well comparatively today.
This is why these films are important.
Take away the ratings and you’re left with movies that had to exist purely to push our technological advancements forward. I believe Roger Ebert said about Jumanji that the director had made a career off flashy big budget special affects films and the film is lifeless and dreadful, and while he has a standard point-films don’t NEED special affects to be great, or any effects at all-he’s also missing the fact that without movies like those then, we wouldn’t have the effects we have today. That’s a big thing. These films deserve the credit for taking the chance of pushing our special effects forward and being pioneers in a way. Also, there’s a BIG difference between a “film” and a “movie”. All 3 of these are movies. They aren’t meant to be artistic or life changing. They’re just meant to be entertaining. That’s why as kind of shitty as Avatar was and the pans it got, it was still decent because it was entertaining. Films are things that make you think and make you look at the world in a new fresh perspective. Things that are artistic like “The Artist” or “Citizen Kane” or “Gravity”. These are films.
Avatar is a whole other beast, though, because while the movie went on to be the highest grossing movie of all time, it’s not by ANY means a “great artistic endeavor”. I understand the rating it has because it’s certainly a mainstream hit. It was a cultural thing to go see. Plus, with James Camerons name attached it was a surefire box office draw, which usually happens with these insanely respected directors. BUT...I also understand the pans it got. It has a LOT of flaws. I mean, all I REALLY have to say is the “unobtainium” (which may have been named to BE bad on purpose, I don’t know) and you get the problems. It’s a formulaic story we’ve all seen a billion times before. It’s Pocahontas meets Ferngully in space. I don’t like any of those things and I don’t want the meeting anywhere, much less in space. In fact, it’s SO formulaic, and we all know it so well, any one of us could’ve sat down after seeing that trailer and wrote that script, almost beat for beat.
BUT, it needs the credit for doing what it did technologically. Avatar to me is the payoff for things like Jumanji and The Mummy. We saw the beginning and the end result, and we’ll see even more of the end result later on down the road. Someday something will come along with the effects of a movie and the artistic integrity of a film and be a perfect 100%. Life of Pi has already set us further down that path. Hugo was a great example. Shit, even A.I. (Artificial Intelligence) is a wonderful example of it, and that was eons before Avatar.
So yes, these movies may not be great and they may not be the best things you’ve ever seen, but give credit where credit is due because without movies like these, we wouldn’t have the effects we have today.
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